Coast Guard: NJ Call May Have Been Hoax

Tuesday, Jun 14, 2011  |  Updated 5:20 PM EDT
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Coast Guard: NJ Call May Have Been Hoax

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The Coast Guard suspended a search for a sailboat missing off the New Jersey coast, and said authorities were investigating it as a possible hoax call.     

The Coast Guard said an extensive search by military, state and local agencies turned up no sign of the boat, debris or sailors.

The search included one boat crew, two helicopter crews and a jet crew that searched about 600 square miles. Local authorities were also involved, and the Coast Guard estimated the cost to its agency at $88,000.

Officials said a false distress call is a felony carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, plus more than $250,000 in fines.

The Coast Guard said it received distress calls at 3:20 a.m. Tuesday from the 33-foot Courtney Lynn sailboat.

Forty minutes later, those aboard radioed that the boat was 90 percent submerged, and that they were transferring to a small dinghy. They said they didn't have a hand-held radio or flares.    

Search vessels, aircraft and helicopters searched the area near Sandy Hook Bay until 1:40 p.m.     

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